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Chapter

Cover Intellectual Property Law

17. Patentability  

This chapter addresses the criteria for patentability; in other words, the rules patent examiners and courts use to decide if a patent is valid or not. These criteria are also useful in the context of an infringement action, because a defendant may make a counter-claim to revoke the claimant's patent for invalidity on the basis of one of the criteria. The patentability of an invention is defined by Articles 52–57 of the European Patent Convention. The criteria comprise five core elements: three positive and two negative. In terms of the positive requirements, for an invention to be patentable, it must possess novelty; inventive step; sufficiency and support; and industrial applicability. Regarding the negative criteria, the invention must not consist of excluded subject matter, and it must not fall afoul of any of the exceptions to patentability.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Intellectual Property

11. Patentability  

This chapter explores the criteria that are applied by an intellectual property office in examining a patent application. These applies to all forms for innovation and are novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. The chapter also explores additional requirements and barriers which apply in relation to biotechnological inventions, which has proved to be a particularly controversial issue in Europe, and the patentability of computer software and related inventions, such as business method patents. The chapter demonstrates the evolution in legal and policy thinking in these two fields, which provide a means to an understanding of developments in patent law in general.

Chapter

Cover Intellectual Property Law

17. Patentable Subject Matter  

L. Bently, B. Sherman, D. Gangjee, and P. Johnson

This chapter deals with patentable subject matter and the ways in which it is regulated under the Patents Act 1977 and the 2000 European Patents Convention (EPC). More specifically, it discusses five criteria that an invention must satisfy to be patentable, including the requirement that it must be capable of ‘industrial application’, and that patents are not granted for immoral inventions. The chapter also considers two different approaches that are used when deciding whether an invention falls within the scope of section 1(2)/Article 52(2): the ‘technical contribution’ approach in the UK and the ‘any hardware’ approach applied by the European Patent Office. The chapter also examines in detail the exclusions from protection of methods of treatment, of certain biological subject matter (including plant and animal varieties), and of inventions which are immoral or against public policy. Finally, it examines how the law deals with a number of specific types of invention and looks at possible reforms, particularly in relation to computer programs and computer-related inventions.